Oregon Governor just another tourist
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
August 26, 2005
CRATER LAKE – Just another tourist.
When Gov. Ted Kulongoski took a boat tour of Crater Lake Wednesday afternoon, he was just another tourist.
He and his wife Nancy hiked down the Cleetwood Cove trail to the lake, boarded the 48-passenger tour boat named “The Klamath,” savored Kulongoski’s first-ever two-hour lake circuit, then walked back to the top without entourage or fanfare.
The hike and the boat trip took place during a visit to Crater Lake to celebrate the selection of the lake as the design for the Oregon quarter.
The 64-year-old Kulongoski is the first sitting Oregon governor to visit Crater Lake National Park in at least 25 years. One long-time seasonal ranger believes it’s been more than 34 years.
Although Wednesday’s stay – which included a picnic lunch at the Pumice Point Overlook and dinner and an overnight at Crater Lake Lodge – was the first in memory by a sitting governor, it wasn’t Kulongoski’s first trip.
He remembers visiting the park in the 1970s at a time when a park plan called for razing the Crater Lake Lodge and building a new overnight facility away from the rim.
Another time he and his wife hiked along the lake’s west rim while backpacking a lengthy portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Kulongoski said he has previously hiked to the lake, but until Wednesday had never taken the boat tour.
“It’s one of those things I told my wife I don’t understand why we didn’t do it earlier, because it gives you a totally different perspective,” he said. “Being on the rim looking down is not the same as being on the water looking back at the entire caldera.”
Others making the tour included State Treasurer Randall Edwards, his wife Julia, and their three children, and Klamath County Commissioners Al Switzer and Bill Brown and their wives.
Kulongoski’s appearance would have gone unnoticed, except for an introduction by employees for Xanterra, the park concessionaire that operates the boat tours.
Dressed in jeans, a short-sleeve shirt, boots and wearing a baseball-style hat with the words, “OIT NAIA Champions 2004,” he easily blended in with tourists from Oregon, Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia and London, England.
Ranger Dave Grimes offered frequent commentary during the tour, which featured stops or slow cruising near the Devil’s Backbone, Llao Rock, Wizard Island, the Old Man of the Lake and Castle Rock.
“This is one of the more bizarre landscapes found anywhere on Earth,” Grimes said. “We’re seeing the internal architecture of a volcano … This is a strange and dangerous place where spirits dwell.”
During the climactic explosion, Grimes said geologists estimate the former Mount Mazama ejected an ash column that was 30 miles high and had lava flows traveling in excess of 100 mph. He said the 12 cubic miles of material blown out during the explosions was enough to cover the entire state of Oregon eight inches deep.
“It was a great experience,” Kulongoski said while hiking up the trail. “I’d like to come back and bring my fishing gear.”
Later in the day, Kulongoski helped celebrate the Oregon quarter – this time at the right place, the lake itself.
Much to the displeasure of many Klamath County officials, the quarter, which features an image of Crater Lake on its “tails” side, was officially launched June 15 in Portland.
Kulongoski, Edwards and park Superintendent Chuck Lundy participated in a ceremony at the lake overlook near the Crater Lake Lodge.
“The problem with that launching was that it was 300 miles from here,” Edwards said of the Portland ceremony. “It had a great deficiency – it didn’t have the lake behind us here.”
Kulongoski, the first sitting governor to visit Crater Lake in at least 25 years, read a proclamation officially closing Oregon’s quarter promotion program while also encouraging people to visit the park.
“Because of its natural beauty,” he said of Crater Lake and its explosive geologic history, “it defines who we (Oregonians) are in terms in perseverance … It’s the nature of who we are are and where we live.”
Kulongoski credited his wife, Nancy, with helping sway him toward having an image of the lake on the state quarter, not a salmon or Mount Hood.
“My wife has been tenacious about it,” he said. “She told me, ‘You better get something unique to Oregon.’ ‘What’s that?’ She said Crater Lake, and she was right on it.”
Kulongoski presented Lundy with the original artwork by Donna Weaver that was used by the United States Mint in creating the quarter design.
The artwork was hanging at the governor’s mansion, but Kulongoski said, “The place this really belongs is at the park.”
Lundy said the artwork will be placed in a prominent public place, possibly Crater Lake Lodge.
“It’s been a great honor to see the image of Crater Lake shining on the Oregon quarter,” Lundy said.
The ceremonies were attended by a contingent of Klamath Falls and Klamath County officials, including Mayor Todd Kellstrom, and County Commissioners John Elliott, Switzer and Brown.
While traveling from Crater Lake to Klamath Falls Thursday morning, Kulongoski stopped off at the Fort Klamath Museum site to tour the new museum and witness a living history demonstration by the Cascade Civil War Society.
Citing his experience as a corporal in a Marine artillery unit, Kulongoski took an immediate interest in an artillery demonstration by the group’s military re-enactors. Cannoneers Jerry Miller of Grants Pass and Ken Janson of Chiloquin fielded numerous questions from the governor about the group’s reproduction 1861 3-inch ordnance rifle.
Kulongoski then became an active participant by eagerly accepting an offer to fire the large Civil War field piece. The governor, who had already been accorded military honors by eight blue-clad re-enactor soldiers, was subsequently awarded an honorary rank of major in the Civil War Society and Oregon Volunteer Infantry.
He finished his half-hour stop at the Fort Klamath site with a guided tour of the new museum guardhouse building led by Klamath County Museums docent Kevin Fields and museum director Judith Hassen.